by Tad Lindley
When I was younger I worked summers in Bristol Bay. One of the camps was on the Egegik River up near the lake. Down by the top of the lagoon there were old house pits. I would poke around on the tundra and explore when I had time. The only place I ever found many salmonberries was around those house pits. Not a lot of salmon berries, but just enough to pick and eat right then.
The birthplace of berries
Seeing as there was a lack of salmonberries in the area (it is more of a blackberry kind of tundra) I got to thinking about where the salmonberries came from and how they ended up right by the house pits. Now, I am not an archaeologist, but I think I figured out a logical explanation. It would seem that the builders of the sod houses perhaps had eaten salmon berries somewhere and brought the seeds inside their stomachs and intestines, and when the fruit of the berries was digested, that the seeds went out with all the other indigestibles in the honey bucket (or however they did it back then). And as a result, the seeds got “planted” near the house pits.
Burying the seed
Jesus had a lesson about plants. He taught about wheat instead of salmonberries, but the principle is the same. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. (John 12:24) I can line up salmonberry seeds in my window so they have plenty of sun. I can even spray the seed with water, but unless a seed actually gets buried, it will never become a plant and nobody will eat its fruit.
Peeling back the layers
What did Jesus mean in John 12:24? On the surface, it is a simple truth about plants: without being buried in the ground, seeds will not grow. Underneath that though, Jesus is talking about something else. The preceding verse tips us off to that. The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified. (John 12:23) Jesus was telling them about the fact that he was very soon to die and be buried, although it is unlikely that anybody understood that at the time.
There is another layer to this message. He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. (John 12:25) Now Jesus is equating the planting of a seed in the ground with repenting of our sinful lives. If we choose to chase the cravings of this life, he is saying, we will end up alone, with nothing to show for it, but if we will die out to our selfish desires, it will be like when the seed is buried, then we will have a fulfilling life, one that is fruitful, and, in fact, extends beyond this life into eternity.
Jesus gets buried
If you know much about Jesus, you probably have heard that he was brutally beaten and nailed to a cross naked and lifted up so that people passing by could see him (Matthew 27:39-40). That same day, he died and was buried in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea (Matthew 27:57-60). He was in the tomb for three days and three nights (Matthew 27:40). Then on the third day, he rose from the dead (I Corinthians 15:4).
We need to die and get buried
Did you know that the Bible calls for us to identify with the death burial and resurrection of Jesus? What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. (Romans 6:1-4) We “die” when we repent, we make a decision to quit living for ourselves and to live for Him. We are buried with him when we get baptized (meaning immersed in water, not sprinkled). And in doing so, even as Jesus arose, we too should rise up and walk in newness of life.
Tired of abiding alone?
If you are that seed abiding alone, you have chased alcohol and drug highs, been from one night stand to one night stand, you have tried everything you can think of that feels good to you and yet at the end of it all, you feel alone, then the time has come for you to die and get buried. I’m not talking about suicide, I’m talking about dying out to sin and getting buried with Jesus in baptism. Then that same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead will raise you to walk in new life (Romans 8:11). Peter summed it all up in a single verse in Acts 2:38 Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Tad Lindley is a minister at the United Pentecostal Church in Bethel, AK.